What You Need To Know About COVID-19

What You Need To Know About COVID-19

COVID-19 Basic Overview

Coronavirus refers to a family or group of viruses. Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the common cold.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is an infectious illness caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. 

Other names that can be used for COVID-19  are 2019 novel coronavirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person in close proximity.

When an infected person sneezes or coughs, they expel droplets containing the virus. If a healthy person inhales these droplets, they become infected.

The virus can survive on surfaces where droplets land. Touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can lead to infection.

Reports suggest that someone without symptoms or mild symptoms can also pass the virus to others.

COVID-19 Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment: What to Expect When Infected

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory infections. Symptoms start 2 – 15 days after contracting the virus and may include:

  • Fever (100F)
  • Headache 
  • Coughing that starts dry.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle pains
  • Loss of smell or taste.
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms rarely included a blocked or runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing.

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and some may experience no symptoms.

COVID-19 is a new disease, and a more comprehensive list should be available in the future.

COVID-19 symptoms can progress rapidly from the onset and last up to 6 weeks. Based on existing evidence, symptoms may develop as follows:

Day 1

A fever (100°F or more) and dry cough are usually the first symptoms. Fatigue and muscle aches are also common. 

Day 3 – 5

Symptoms become worse. Some people develop breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath, wheezing, heart palpitations, and rapid, shallow breathing.

Patients with severe symptoms get admitted to the hospital at this stage.

Day 7 – 10

Some patients may start showing signs of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a life-threatening lung injury where fluid fills up the lungs.

Approximately 15% of cases develop signs of ARDS or pneumonia. Some people will need a ventilator to help them breathe.

In mild cases, symptoms start easing up after 7- 10 days, but coughing may continue for several weeks.

What is the Prognosis of COVID-19?

About 80% of all cases are mild. Symptoms start easing up after 7 to 10 days, but patients may experience coughing much longer. 

More severe cases take longer to improve.

According to preliminary data, COVID-19 is fatal in 2% – 6% of cases worldwide. The duration from the onset of symptoms to death ranges from 2 to 8 weeks.

Stay at home and self-isolate, even if you only have mild symptoms. Separate yourself as much as possible from others. Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth mask when in contact with anyone. 

Monitor your symptoms and contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. They can assess your symptoms and determine what course of action to take.

The CDC guidelines for testing include hospitalized patients, high-risk patients, and anyone who has been in close contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.

Your primary care provider can assess your situation and determine if you should get tested.

Find more details about testing on the WHO and CDC websites.

There are no approved therapies, medicine, or a vaccine for COVID-19.  

Antibiotic treatment won’t cure COVID-19, but doctors may administer antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.

People with severe infection may need to be hospitalized so they can receive life-saving treatment for complications.

What You Need To Know About COVID-19

Prevention and Risk Factors: How To Protect Yourself and Others

Anyone can get infected, but some factors increase the risk of developing severe infections. According to available data, anyone with a serious underlying medical condition, and the elderly might have a higher risk of developing severe infections.

Medical conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe symptoms include:

  • Diabetes
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Chronic lung conditions
  • Heart, liver or kidney disease
  • Obesity

Children can get infected with COVID-19. The majority of confirmed cases are adults, and children don’t seem to have a higher risk of getting infected.

To prevent getting infected, avoid coming into contact with the virus. 

The following precaution may reduce your risk of becoming infected:

  • Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
    • Remember the virus can spread even without symptoms.
    • The face cover is to prevent you from spreading the virus without your knowledge.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen countertops, and light switches.

You can find more details about protecting yourself and others on the WHO and CDC websites.

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by teaching your family to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

Remember to launder all washable items, including plush toys, as required.

Quarantine aims to prevent spreading COVID-19 before symptoms develop. Anyone who isn’t ill but may have contracted the virus should self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

After COVID-19 symptoms develop, a person should be isolated to prevent the virus from spreading.

Distancing refers to keeping a physical gap of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.

What You Need To Know About COVID-19

COVID-19 and Animals

So far, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19. Based on what we know, the virus mostly spreads from human to human.

Other viruses in the corona family may have an origin in animals. We don’t know enough about the new coronavirus to confirm whether it has an animal source or not.

Viral and bacterial infections affect the respiratory system. The most common causes of respiratory infections include:

 

Influenza Viruses

Influenza viruses are responsible for seasonal flu, swine flu, and bird flu (avian flu). 

Symptoms range from mild to severe, appear within 2 – 5 days of exposure, and most people recover in 2 weeks. 

Seasonal flu has a fatality rate of 0.1% – 0.5%. Bird flu and swine flu are more deadly but less widespread.

There are vaccinations available for influenza viruses.

 

Coronaviruses

SARS and MERS are infections caused by other coronaviruses. 

SARS symptoms include fever, dry cough, and diarrhea. MERS symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms start within 5 -10 days of infection. 

Based on available data, SARS and MERS have a higher case fatality rate than COVID-19, at 9.6% and 34.3%, respectively.

There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for coronaviruses.

 

Adenoviruses

There are over 57 types of adenoviruses that cause the common cold. 

The most frequent symptoms are a runny nose, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. 

Adenoviruses usually cause mild illness, and people recover quickly.

Over-the-counter medicine can treat symptoms.

 

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral lung infection that often develops because of a cold, flu, or after a hospital stay. 

The symptoms for both types of pneumonia may include fever, fatigue, and a wet cough (that produces mucus).

Pneumonia kills around 45 000 Americans each year and is especially dangerous for young children.

Antibiotics may treat bacterial pneumonia, while your doctor may prescribe antivirals for viral pneumonia.

Based on available data, COVID-19 is more dangerous. 

The estimated case fatality rate for COVID-19 is 2% – 6%, while the fatality rate for flu is less than 0.5% 

COVID-19 may also be more dangerous because symptoms take longer to develop. 

Flu symptoms start within 2 – 5 days of becoming infected. In contrast, COVID-19 symptoms can take up to 15 days to develop.

The sooner symptoms develop, the lower the risk of infecting more people is. An infected person can spread a virus without having any symptoms.